Linda Boronkay: Eclectic Influences
The London-based designer’s upbringing led her naturally to the creative field.
Linda Boronkay: Eclectic Influences
Portrait of Linda Boronkay, London-based interior designer (Photo Credit: Wanda Martin)
Linda Boronkay may have been destined for an artistic career. Hailing from a creative family, the Budapest-born designer attributes much of her design education to antique shopping trips with her collector mother, and later to her global travels as a curious young fashion model, soaking up the cultural nuances of the places she visited.
Having worked with some of design’s biggest names since then, from Tom Dixon to Tara Bernerd, Boronkay’s decision to launch her own studio draws on an eclectic variety of accumulated experiences. Twelve years into her career, her accolades have included Britain’s Best Emerging Interior Designer in 2008, Interior Designer of the Year from the Interior Design Excellence Awards in 2014, and multiple shortlists with two wins from Ahead Awards Europe. And her London-based interior and architectural design company Linda Boronkay Design Studio comprises a team with more than 70 years of experience in hotels, private members’ clubs, restaurants and residences worldwide.
Boronkay’s design influences made their mark early, including via childhood moments in her hometown of Budapest. With an architect father and a mother of many creative trades — including art teacher, fashion boutique owner and journalist — the interior designer was often surrounded by her family’s artistry. ‘I grew up in a house that my father designed and built,’ she reflects. ‘It was filled with incredible antique furniture pieces, lighting and sculptures from ancient Greece to modern contemporary times — lots of crazy colours and textures.’ Her mother, who also ran a Pulitzer-winning design magazine, was a passionate collector of antiques, art and interesting objects. ‘My mother used to take me to all the vintage fairs in Budapest, or if we went to the countryside for the summer, the daily routine consisted of us driving around and visiting local antique shops,’ she recalls.
Following these creative impulses, Boronkay studied fashion design in Paris, and though she was initially determined to pursue the discipline, also dabbling in the modelling world, she realised interior design was her true calling. She was supported by her head teacher at university, who advised her to apply for the Britain’s Best Emerging Interior Designer award.
Tom Dixon, one of the award’s judges, quickly became a close mentor and one of the first critically acclaimed designers with whom Boronkay would work as a young designer. From intern to project designer, she learnt the ropes under Dixon before working for Martin Brudnizki and Woods Bagot in Sydney, then returning to London for Tara Bernerd.
For one of the designer’s most famous roles yet, she was invited by Soho House to oversee its in-house design team for its expanding club spaces across Asia, Europe and the UK. Prized projects include the opening of Soho Houses in Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Mumbai, Berlin, Paris and more. And the brand’s quintessential antique-meets-modern-boho vibe can be heavily credited to Boronkay and her team. ‘We sourced vintage pieces ourselves; it was very hands-on,’ she says. It was also among the most influential of her projects. ‘It was like a bootcamp.’
Leaving her role with Soho House to start her studio in the midst of the pandemic was no easy transition. Boronkay, a new mother, hadn’t planned for the career pivot. ‘We had so many interesting projects come up and our team grew quite quickly in a short time,’ she says. The interior design studio quickly made a name for itself among top clientele, from Nobu and Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts to Soho House. ‘Right now, we have about nine projects in seven different countries in four different continents, and we love that people come to us from all around the world,’ says Boronkay. There’s a natural appeal here, with Boronkay having travelled during her modelling days and throughout her design career, using her free time to try local food, visit museums and in general get an overall sense of a place through her explorations. ‘That cultural exposure helped shape my aesthetic and outlook on life, on design and architecture,’ she says. ‘I think I’m much more into getting to the heart of different concepts and briefs, and also understanding people’s needs.’
When it comes to designing a hospitality space, Boronkay says that it’s about pushing the boundaries to create a place that ‘reflects the surroundings and the cultural and architectural context’. Character and functionality are the bread and butter of a memorable space: ‘It’s not about the level of luxury or the shininess — for me, it’s all about character and giving you an experience and the authenticity of having a really strong sense of place no matter where you are in the world.’ As one way of ensuring this authenticity, Boronkay and her team prefer to source objects in person, visiting markets and developing close relationships with craftspeople.
On the future of post-pandemic hospitality, Boronkay remains optimistic and is ready for the industry to bounce back. ‘I think people want to embrace social and physical interactions again,’ she says.
For details about Linda Boronkay and her work, please visit: https://lindaboronkay.com/
This podcast series is produced in partnership with Design Anthology, a luxury interiors, design, architecture and urban living magazine.